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BABYLON IS FALLEN

 

After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!” Revelation 18:1–2

 

This is a continuation of the vision from chapter 17. There we learned about the great harlot, which is the spirit of apostasy, the scarlet colored beast of Roman Catholicism, the ten horns and the harlot daughters that came into being during the Protestant Reformation.

In this chapter we encounter an angel with great authority coming down from heaven. What we see here is reminiscent of Revelation chapter 14 where the Lamb appears on Mount Zion. A loud voice from heaven was heard with the appearance of the Lamb in that chapter. Here in chapter 17 we hear the angel having great authority speaking with a loud voice. We saw in chapter 13 three angels appearing in response to the loud voice each having a specific message: The everlasting gospel; Babylon is fallen; and prohibition for worshipping the beast, his image, and receiving the mark of the beast. In this chapter the angel covers the same topics under the statement that Babylon has fallen and commanding God’s people to come out of her.

 

Babylon is fallen, is fallen

 

We first encountered Babylon in Revelation 14:8 where the angel there says the exact same words: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen.” The repetition of the words is fallen indicates the absolute certainty of Babylon’s fallen state—it is fallen and there is no hope of its ever getting up. This statement is a direct quote from Isaiah 21:9 “And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen! Then he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.” This is said in a prophecy given by Isaiah in about 714 B.C. of the eventual fall of Babylon that will happen in 539 B.C., 175 years in the future. The defeat of Babylon by Cyrus was God’s appointed means of ending the captivity of God’s people, Israel, and causing their return to their homeland.

We learned that the Babylon of the Revelation exists in the man-made churches that originated with both the beast of the sea (Catholicism) and the beast of the earth (the Reformation) of chapter 13. This Babylon condition is a spiritual conspiracy designed and motivated by the great red dragon (i.e. Christ-less religion) of chapter 12 using the beast of the sea and the beast of the earth to keep God’s people from following the Lamb on Mount Zion in chapter 14. Furthermore, we have just seen this same Babylon in the great harlot, the spirit of apostasy, in chapter 17.

These facts tell us that the Babylon named here is a complex collection of all Christ-less and apostate Christian-like religion working together to divert people from the worship of the one and only true creator God and holding them captive away from the love and grace of God through fear, superstition, idolatry, false teaching, ritual, pseudo-spirituality, self-righteousness, and any means that preserves native depravity and denies the holiness of God. Babylon’s condition is fallen. The verb fallen is used here in the sense of falling under judgment, as is its use in James 5:12 where we are told “let your Yes, be Yes, and your No, No, lest you fall into judgment.”

The judgment under which Babylon falls is God exposing it for what it really is. The angel pours out God’s judgment by exposing six key characteristics of this spiritual Babylon in verses 2 and 3.

First, Babylon is the dwelling place of demons. Every religion has a guiding spirit. The guiding spirit of the church Jesus built is the Holy Spirit, as we learn in 1 Corinthians 12:12–13, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” And the Apostle tells us in verses 27 and 28 that this body is the body of Christ, the church. Everything else other than the body of Christ is guided by demons. A demon is an evil spirit that is subservient to the very devil. Demons motivate the beliefs and practices of pagan religions, philosophic religions, humanistic religions, and apostate Christian religions.

The second characteristic of Babylon is it is a prison for every foul spirit. The King James Version calls it a hold, meaning a place that is guarded, a prison. Foul spirits in the Revelation are essentially the spirits of people that are controlled by their native depravity. Babylon religions offer no cleansing from sin and no hope or possibility of real holiness in this life. Their beliefs and practices discourage any hope of lasting deliverance from sin and hold people in bondage to sin. The Apostle Paul realized this in his religious experience as a Jew in Romans 7:17–21, “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.”

The third characteristic is that Babylon is a cage for every unclean and hated bird. The word cage is the same Greek word as prison. The word bird occurs only in this verse of the Book of Revelation, so there is no precedent for its interpretation before this verse. However, the phrase is reminiscent of Isaiah’s depiction of fallen Babylon after its defeat by the Persians in chapters 13 and 14 of the Book of Isaiah. The word unclean is the same as the word foul in the expression foul spirit; and the word hated means detested or intensely disliked. From this we gather that Babylon is a place of spiritual desolation, a spiritual prison that keeps people separated from God because it keeps them in sin and in a state of life called uncleanness that they actually dislike deep in their hearts.

The fourth characteristic is that Babylon makes people drunk on the wine of her fornication. The wine of the religions of Babylon is the doctrines they teach. Babylon’s religions teach anything from myths to erroneous interpretations of the Bible. Babylon’s people accept, believe and rely on these teachings for their sense of spiritual existence. The angel calls this wine the wrath of her fornication. The word wrath indicates hard breathing and indignation. Those that have drunk the wine of any part of Babylon become indignant and oppositional when those doctrines are debunked by God’s word.

The fifth characteristic is that Babylon makes the kings of the earth commit fornication. The relationship of Christ to His true church is likened to a marriage where Christ is the husband and the church is His bride. Babylon draws people into religious relationships that are supposedly relationships with God, or someone’s idea of God, but fall far short of the salvation God has made through the atonement in Christ. Babylon cannot lead people into a true relationship with God, so these religious relationships are a sham, they are false, and therefore they are the same as spiritual fornication.

And the sixth characteristic is called the abundance of her luxury. The King James Version uses the word delicacies instead of luxury. The word has a deeper meaning that what we think; the Greek word implies insolent luxury and if we do not understand the word insolent, it means boldly rude or disrespectable. Those delicacies cause people to feel superior to other religions. Among the Christ-less and apostate Christian religions there is the tendency for adherents to believe their religion is superior to all others if not the only way to God. And especially when confronted with the true word of God, they believe their doctrines and practices are right and the word of God is wrong.

Babylon’s religions, whether they be Christ-less or apostate tend to make people feel right and secure in following them regardless of what God has actually revealed. To confront a follower of any of Babylon’s religion with the everlasting gospel is to challenge his sense of religious security. If he feels secure in his religion, he will flatly reject the truth of the Scriptures.

Jesus built His church on the atonement in Christ. The dragon spirit and the spirit of apostasy oppose Christ’s church. While persecution and apostasy have been ongoing pressures in the history of the church they have never succeeded in doing away with the everlasting gospel. Babylon is indeed fallen into the depths of error. Compared to the everlasting gospel, we know that the Christ-less religions are wrong and do not offer salvation or eternal life.

Babylon, under the guise of Christianity and the church, is less obvious because it presents a message of Christ in doctrine and practice that in some ways may appear to be correct, but under the scrutiny of the everlasting gospel it can be found to contain heresy or to have apostatized from a true faith once held by the church Jesus built.

 

An End-Time Revival

 

The angel that comes down from heaven in chapter 18 continues teaching the message of the everlasting gospel we found earlier in chapter 16. I believe this angel with great authority is God’s final move in time to bring about an end-time revival.

The first thing necessary for the end-time revival is the revival of bold teaching of the everlasting gospel, which is seen in the great authority given to this angel and the glory that attends his message.

Also necessary for the end-time revival is for the church to expose Babylon for what it is. This is not so difficult with the Christ-less religions because they look to anything other than the atonement in Christ as a pathway to God. The real challenge for us in the end-time revival is to expose the Babylon of the beast and its horns, what we might call Christian Babylon, in a manner that reflects God’s stern and objective love. Perhaps the words stern and objective do not sound like words that go with love, but God’s love is just that. It is intense; it is definite; it is absolute; and it cannot be made to embrace anything less than holiness because God is holy. Babylon will interpret our preaching as hate, but the message of salvation and holiness tears down sin and ungodliness and gives hope to all who sincerely and purposefully seek God.

Remember what John wrote in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” God has made salvation possible for all people only through the atonement in Christ. This is the message we carry to those held hostage in Christ-less religions; and this is the message we carry to those held hostage in churches that do not offer the everlasting gospel that transforms peoples’ lives from sin to holiness.